By Satarupa B.:
India has become a land of vibrancy. While its own people see it as colourful yet claustrophobic, developing yet far from being Utopian, India, today, is the perfect breeding ground of the dollar-laced dreams, the fast paced ambitions and the rat race of a life that its people live in. Amid so much, there has emerged one breed of individuals we call modern Indian writers in English.
No, they are not those who write to find a place in the Sahitya Akademi archives, or even those who target a Booker. They are the plain speaking, high thinking authors that have infiltrated our bookshelves today. Far from perfect, yet too good to ignore–we salute the birth of a generation of men and women who are now authors in every right. Interestingly, some of these authors have clinched a place in most hearts, including mine, while some have failed to impress. Talking of the good things first, it is noticeable that the heroines or female characters in most of these literatures are well fleshed out; frankly, more fleshed out than even few of the male characters! However, the shocker remains in that the modern Indian heroines in our pulp fiction are not the typical pati-vrata naaris of the quintessential nature. Rather, they are carefree lasses with career dreams, a life of their own and ample intellect to stand tall amid the patriarchs in our still laid-back society. What primarily got me thinking was the fact that these women do need their men, and are in love. However, they know how to speak their mind and demand things out-rightly. From guts to demanding sex, discussing the nitti-gritties of things, or taking big decisions in life; these heroines have reformed the image of an Indian woman in such literature.
Consider the character of Ananya in Chetan Bhagat’s Two States. Zesty – that’s what comes to mind as we read about this Tam Brahm. Immortalized on reel as well, this is one of the most outspoken and modern Indian women characters in recent pulp fiction. Personally, I have seen many non-vegetarians emerge from conservative veggie-eating families. More so, love for shorts, a loyal partner, and the outspokenness to demand she wants to be made out with are definitive traits that are common to both Ananya and most women today. We do not need permission via marriage to demand carnal love. Nor do we fear the difference of caste and community before deciding on our partner. If there is one character who truly represents the emancipated Bhartiya Naari of today, it is her!
Kairavi in Shuchi Kalra’s ‘Done With Men’:Â Kairavi, aka, Kay is an endearing character that has popped on to my favourite list after I read Shuchi Kalra’s novella. A breeze of a read, fantastic pen-pictures and yes, lovely characters! Kalra has arrived, and believe me, is here to stay. A fresh break from the Chetan Bhagat style of fiction, the novella explores an incident that changes Kay’s life forever. A strong-willed woman who is not shy to admit that she enjoys her beer, a woman who finds Goa the right hub to emerge afresh from a break-up, a woman who is decidedly done with men since she has been in and out of failed relationships, Kay is reflective of the young career oriented women of today’s India. In short, she is a ‘bad girl’, almost hippie like, in terms of open mindedness but something prevents her from crossing the line to becoming crass. She values relationships yet dares to make mistakes. Of course, she nurses a heartbreak after her last relationship crumbles. Yet, she finds sparks when she meets another man, a doctor this time. Kay shows that women today know how to demand love at the right time, in the best way, from men.
Gargi in Projesh Kar’s Inscribed To My Heart:Â Projesh Kar was a non-entity in the world of writing sometime back, but believe me, once you read this work, supposedly inspired from his life, you will crave for the man to churn more soon! Gargi is the girl with a mind and heart of her own. She does compromise and adjust, but only to the extent where she can remain sane. A perfect relationship that the book’s couple is in seems illusory when Arjun’s (Gargi’s hubby) womanizer-instinct causes trouble. Gargi decides to take charge and change a few things, the right way. Never does she leave her husband, but finally finds a way to make her stance clear. She is the woman who has her values in place, yet knows enough to stop what’s wrong. Inspirational, and truly significant of what an Indian woman stands for today.
Ankita in Preeti Shenoy’s Life Is What You Make It:Â Ankita Sharma is the typical Indian lass with big dreams, but when it comes to handling relationships, she cuts a new image. The conservative family pressures, the typical Indian zeal to excel in academics are all there, but Ankita emerges as a fighter and dares to come out of a relationship to explore a new one. What leaves an indelible impression after browsing over this character is how she battles a disorder (read bipolar) to fulfil her goals and dreams. Despite being steeped in Indian values, Ankita is a modern Indian woman who is no way synonymous with the “ablaa naari” of the wee days.
Vidya in Chetan Bhagat’s Three Mistakes Of My Life:Â Vidya is your average Indian girl when it comes to tastes and quirks. Yet, she dares to cross the mark in terms of typicality when she decides to enter into a relationship and preserve it despite knowing the obstacles. Oh yes, she dares to value the physical chemistry in her relationship and has the courage to use her own terrace as her love nest. We almost feel she is anxious to get rid of her virginity! Now, that is something most shy Indian girls of yesteryears would clearly not dare to do. Mostly, she is the feisty girl powering her relationship while her boyfriend is seen as too laid-back and hesitant,Â who fears what her brother would opine, more than cherishing his love life. It is with Vidya that our analysis comes full circle.
In Indian pop fiction, women are way above your average Indian woman. No “sharmana” or “bahana”, these ladies only know how to pick pieces up in their life to weave up one great jigsaw! For those who thought pulp/pop fiction meant self-published stories that rich authors wrote, you could not be more wrong. Go grab a copy of either of these books. See the depth that these authors have reached in terms of characterization and true, yet non-stereotyped, portrayal of women in Indian society. Happy reading!